Report - Female education in Sub-Saharan Africa

In a world increasingly shaped by science and technology, scientific and technological literacy is a universal requirement…. it is vital to improve scientific and technological literacy among women and girls, whose unique educational function within the family makes them such a major determinant of the attitude of present and future generations - Federico Mayor

Five years at most - this is how much an educational process lasts for an average girl in most Sub-Saharan countries… provided that she enrolls in school at all. In Africa, around 28 million girls between 6 and 15 years old are not at school and many of them probably will never go there.

There are various and complex reasons behind an enormous gender gap in education in Africa. Both endogenous and exogenous factors influence considerably harder access to educational facilities for female students. One and probably the most difficult to overcome is a widespread misconception on women’s role in society. Most girls are brought up in a belief that getting wed and bearing children is their principal aim in life. Some of them even consider this path a secure way to better future. Childhood marriage and early pregnancy are significant obstacles preventing young women from starting or continuing their education. Being a part of an ethnic minority, living in rural areas or in conflict zones escalate the problem.

Another issue that hinders the development of female education in Africa is the condition of schools themselves. Lack of safe spaces for girls puts them at risk of or sexual harassment. Limited access to electricity and drinking water in these institutions exacerbate the situations of young women. Furthermore, around 30% of schools in Africa don’t have any toilets, not to mention facilities for girls only. This inconvenience alone causes not only cultural but also safety and health-related obstacles for girls. Moreover, some institutions withhold them from continuing education by imposing bans on students with visible pregnancy. Such policy excludes such young women from further learning as once dropped out of school they would never enroll again. Finally, the educational system suffers from a shortage of qualified teachers, let alone female ones. This creates a considerable deficiency in female role-models for girls.

Female education is of great significance not only for the girls themselves but also for the society as a whole. One African proverb says that “if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation” and these are not just empty words. A literate and knowledgeable woman is more likely to provide better care to her future children and also send them to school. Moreover, higher awareness among girls contributes to decrease in maternal and infant mortality.

As it was stated before, more skilled female workforce makes a positive impact on their communities, especially if current economic trends are taken into consideration. For instance, nowadays technical education becomes of greater and greater significance as it corresponds to the needs of rapidly growing African markets. To sustain the economic development more adequate human resources are needed. Women stand for more than half of African population. Therefore, neglecting them in technical education process would be a huge omission in improving the scientific capacity of the continent. Science is no longer a male-oriented domain, and its meaning has significantly broadened. Women should not only become end users of technology but also participate in designing and application process, especially in developing countries.

Female education is an important multiplier in social development. More knowledgeable women create better economic ambient, can help decrease the level of domestic and sexual violence and contribute to creating more competitive and attractive workforce in their countries. That is why putting more stress on facilitating their access to proper institutions, materials and creating a safe environment should become one of the priority issues. TME Education made female schooling one of its focus areas. It well understands the role of women in rapidly developing labor market and wants them to equally participate in forming skilled and good quality workforce, especially in electronics and technology-related areas. By supplying schools with suitable equipment and providing specialized training TME Education wants to give the girls proper tools to get a strong start in their professional careers.


Agnieszka Jankowska, TME Education Team